Socket-AM2 Performance Preview

Without major architectural changes to the new AM2 CPUs, we wanted a quick and easy way to showcase the performance differences between AM2 and Socket-939. What we've got is a massive table below with all of our usual CPU benchmarks and their results for the same CPU in both Socket-939 and AM2 varieties, and the performance benefit offered by AM2:

Benchmark Socket-939 (DDR-400) Socket-AM2 (DDR2-800) % Advantage (Socket-AM2)
PC WorldBench 5 115 115 0%
Business Winstone 2004 23.3 23.2 -0.4%
Multimedia Winstone 2004 38.4 38.9 1.3%
SYSMark 2004 220 224 1.8%
ICC SYSMark 2004 282 286 1.4%
OP SYSMark 2004 171 175 2.3%
3dsmax 7 2.38 2.38 0%
Adobe Premier Pro 1.5 (Export w/ Adobe Media Encoder) 130 s 128 s 1.5%
Adobe Photoshop CS2 210.6 s 210.3 s 0.1%
DivX 6.1 11.6 fps 12.0 fps 3.4%
WME9 35.2 fps 35.6 fps 1.1%
Quicktime 7.0.4 (H.264) 3.63 min 3.63 min 0%
iTunes 6.0.1.4 (MP3) 43 s 43 s 0%
Quake 4 - 10x7 (SMP) 111.3 fps 117.4 fps 5.5%
Call of Duty 2 - 10x7 59.3 fps 60.1 fps 1.3%
F.E.A.R. - 10x7 92 fps 94 fps 2.1%
Multitasking Test (LAME + WME + Anti Virus + Zip) 216.3 s 213.4 s 1.4%
ScienceMark 2.0 (Bandwidth) 5007 MB/s 6805 MB/s 36%
ScienceMark 2.0 (Latency 512-byte stride) 53.83 ns 49.77 ns 7.5%

We'll start at the bottom of the table and go up from there. Rev F processors feature a 128-bit DDR2-800 memory controller, which works out to offer a peak theoretical bandwidth to/from memory of 12.8GB/s. As you can expect, that's twice the bandwidth of Rev E CPUs' 128-bit DDR-400 controller at 6.4GB/s. Thus to see a 36% increase in memory bandwidth according to ScienceMark is to be expected, albeit a bit on the low side. The old DDR-400 memory controller is able to deliver 5GB/s out of a maximum of 6.4GB/s, but now we're only seeing 6.8GB/s out of a maximum of 12.8GB/s with AM2. This however is a huge step for AMD, as it is the first spin of the Rev F silicon that we've been able to see such a significant advantage in theoretical memory bandwidth over previous DDR-400 cores.

What's even more important than the increase in memory bandwidth is that access latency has been reduced by 7.5% over the DDR-400 memory controller in the Rev E cores. Lower latency and more bandwidth means that, at bare minimum, performance won't go down. At least, not perceptibly: .4% slower in one test that has a 1-2% variability is nothing to worry about.

It also doesn't guaranee that performance will go up, as you can see from the results above. If we only count the overall SYSMark score and leave out the synthetic tests, the real world performance advantage averages out to a little under 1.3%. There are some special cases such as Quake 4 and DivX were performance goes up fairly reasonably, which can be expected since both of those tasks are fairly bandwidth intensive and make good use of both cores. However similar benchmarks, such as F.E.A.R. and Windows Media Encoder 9 show lower improvements, so it is very dependent on the specific application and workload.

It's important to note that until recently, AM2 samples were not able to produce scores even on par with Socket-939, so the fact that we're seeing a performance increase at all is a major step from where we were just a couple of months ago. The real question is, is this all we get?

The Test Does AM2's Performance Make Sense?
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  • tony215 - Wednesday, April 12, 2006 - link

    Who in their right mind is going to fork-out hard earned cash for an AM2 mobo, CPU, & DDR2 if there's little to no gain in performance over AMD Socket 939. This review makes depressing reading for AMD fans looking to upgrade, it's obvious that AM2 has little to offer this year, I expect to see many jumping ship when Conroe is released. Reply
  • clairvoyant129 - Thursday, April 13, 2006 - link

    Don't count on many people jumping ships. AMD has a pretty good enthusist fanbase (fanboys mostly). I know Im going to drop my FX-55 for the 2.67GHz Conroe but don't expect many to switch sides... besides, most of these fanboys are probably going to cook up some conspiracy theories to degrade Conroe. Reply
  • Calin - Thursday, April 13, 2006 - link

    I might jump ship to AM2 from my Duron 600MHz processor. For me, a dual channel architecture coupled with cheap Sempron processor and onboard video would make a lot of sense - especially a low power Sempron, if such beasts could be found.
    I am waiting for the AM2 platform (processors, chipsets, mainboards)
    Reply
  • tony215 - Thursday, April 13, 2006 - link

    Calin, by jumping ship I meant switching from AMD to Intel. Let's see what June brings, if this review is anything to go by I don't expect a massive leap in performance from the AM2 platform over current socket 939, People with money in their pockets now aren't interested in what AM2 /DDR2 may develop into in the year 2007. If Conroe lives up to the hype of offering more bang for less bucks ... I'll make the switch, screw brand loyalty. Reply
  • tekkstore - Monday, April 17, 2006 - link

    http://www.tekkstore.com">tekkstore.com Reply
  • clairvoyant129 - Tuesday, April 11, 2006 - link

    My god, that website has to be the most biased **** I've ever seen. Explain Victor Wong's resoluts on SuperPI 1M (21secs) with a $300 processor with an unsupported motherboard and BIOS. I've never seen such fanboyism in my life. You can't believe anything from that website. Reply
  • Anemone - Monday, April 10, 2006 - link

    AM2 may not hold up against Conroe, but until you can buy them in a store, they are vaporware. Intel is late a LOT, so I'm not buying this "don't worry it'll be soon" stuff. Merom prediction: Jan 07. Conroe prediction Oct 06. That's a long, long time for AMD to sell superb chips to a lot of folks.

    $.02
    Reply
  • mkruer - Monday, April 10, 2006 - link

    Everyone is bitching how the Conroe is going to kick AM2 @$$ but the facts of the Conroe are starting to leak out. http://sharikou.blogspot.com/">http://sharikou.blogspot.com/ Does this illegitimate Conroe? No, but it does clarify why Conroe preformed so well in the benchmarked apps. and that Conroe is still more memory constrained then the AM2. The AM2 might just get 4MB of Cache per Core thanks to Z-RAM or at least the K8L server editions sure will. Will the real Conroe to step forward? Reply
  • Shintai - Tuesday, April 11, 2006 - link

    I love how that site only compared Conroes worst results, also the Conroe used crappy memory timings, DDR2-533, preproduction boards, ES sample CPU. Oh, and did we forget its a 300$ CPU vs a 1200$ AMD CPU? Ye we might have forgotten than...didn´t we. Reply
  • mino - Tuesday, April 11, 2006 - link

    Most important it's NON-EXISTENT vs. $1200 CPU.

    Seems many people forget about it.
    Reply

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